Foveolar cells phagocytose apoptotic neutrophils in chronic active Helicobacter pylori gastritis

R. A. Caruso, F. Fedele, C. Di Bella, E. Mazzon, L. Rigoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The recognition and removal of apoptotic inflammatory cells by tissue macrophages and non-professional phagocytes, in a process called efferocytosis, is required for resolution of inflammation and is actively anti-inflammatory. We have previously demonstrated phagocytosis of apoptotic neutrophils by tumor cells in human gastric carcinoma, but to date, there have been no studies investigating this process in chronic active Helicobacter pylori gastritis. Biopsy specimens from 28 subjects with or without H. pylori infection and active inflammation were examined and graded according to the updated Sydney system. Light microscopy, electron microscopy, and Terminal Deoxynucleotidyltransferase- Mediated UTP End Labeling staining were used to identify apoptosis. H. pylori infection was detected by histology and by molecular assay in 16 out of 28 cases. DNA from paraffinembedded gastric biopsies was amplified using primers specific for cagA, for the cag "empty site" as well as for the s and m alleles of vacA. The more virulent cagA-positive strains were found in five out of nine patients with chronic active gastritis. The vacA s1/m1 and s2/m1 genotypes were more common in nine patients with chronic active gastritis, while the vacA s2/m2 genotype was more frequent in seven patients with chronic inactive gastritis. Apoptotic neutrophils were also detected within the cytoplasmic vacuoles of the foveolar cells of nine cases with chronic active gastritis. Transmission electron micrographs revealed further apoptotic neutrophils within spacious phagosomes of foveolar cells in a similar manner to those described in late-phase efferocytosis both in vivo and in vitro. These new observations expand the morphological spectrum of gastritis in patients infected with more virulent H. pylori strains, compatible with an anti-inflammatory role for the gastric epithelial cells in their removal of apoptotic neutrophils during active chronic gastritis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-494
Number of pages6
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • Efferocytosis
  • Electron microscopy
  • H. pylori gastritis
  • Neutrophil apoptosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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